Red-hot Arizona caps eastern swing with 6-3 win vs. Montreal
MONTREAL (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes ended a five-game East Coast swing with an emphatic 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
Barrett Hayton, Anton Stralman, Nick Ritchie, Lawson Crouse, Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz scored for Arizona, which ended its travels with four wins in five games.
In back-to-back games — a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday and Tuesday’s in Montreal — the Coyotes (19-36-4) were outshot 43-15 and 37-12 respectively. Backup Scott Wedgewood grabbed the win in Ottawa while rookie Karel Vejmelka, one of the quiet surprises in Arizona, notched the final victory of the trip with 36 saves.
”(Vejmelka) and (Wedgewood) have been outstanding the entire time so we have a lot of confidence,” Hayton said. “We’re playing hard in front of the net, trying to take away those second chances, some of those Grade-As. Obviously we’d like to limit some shots, that’s something we need to work on, but we have a lot of confidence in our goalies.”
Coach Andre Tourigny said that Vejmelka has done “extraordinary work” since signing as a free agent from Czech club Brno Kometa in the off-season. The 25-year-old made his way from Arizona’s development camp to become the Coyotes’ starter.
“I joked about that once. I said: ‘He must be the only starting goalie in the league to show up at a post-game press conference with a shirt that reads ‘Development Camp’ on it,’” he said. “There aren’t a lot of guys from the 2021 development camps that played as many NHL games as he has.”
Tourigny kept his emotions in check on Tuesday, which was a homecoming, as Quebec is his home province.
“I saw my mom before the game and she was tearing up and I know that it will be the same when I see her later,” Tournigny said. “... To see my mom, my sister, my friends in the stands next to the next, that means a lot to me.”
Laurent Dauphin scored and Cole Caufield made things interesting with two goals in the span of eight seconds, but Montreal couldn’t match Arizona’s tally in the battle of the NHL’s bottom-dwellers.
“If we take the game as a whole I think we played well,” said Paul Byron. “The shots they took went in and ours didn’t. I think that we’d win this game nine times out of 10.”
The Canadiens pulled their goalie for a league-leading 11th time this season after Samuel Montembeault allowed four goals on seven shots in the first period. Cayden Primeau made 11 saves in relief.
“We deserved better tonight. I’m really happy with the way my team is playing,” Canadiens interim coach Martin St. Louis said. “You always count the goals and the key saves but the way we play as a whole, I’m very happy.”
The Coyotes had no tired legs from their 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators the night before. Hayton skated the length of the ice and beat Montembeault to break the ice in the first. Stralman added a second from the crease, tapping in Reilly Nash’s pass from behind Montembeault’s net.
The Canadiens cut their deficit to one goal in awkward fashion with about six minutes left in the period. The puck bounced off of two Coyotes players and finally made its way into their own net.
Alex Galcheyuk passed to Ritchie in the crease who tapped in Arizona’s third goal of the night, and his seventh of the season. Finally, Crouse ended Arizona’s productive first period by scoring on a breakaway and sending Montembeault to the bench.
Keller added a power-play marker in the second to make it a 5-1 game but Montreal made things interesting with just over one minute left in the period. Caufield scored twice in the span of eight seconds to bring the score to 5-3 ahead of the second intermission.
Schmaltz added the empty-netter with 4:18 to go in the third period, his 17th point in seven games, sealing Arizona’s 6-3 win.
Coyotes: Host Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Canadiens: Host Dallas on Wednesday.
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